Legislation to help keep Mich. families in homes

On Wednesday, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation to help homeowners meet their tax obligations, prevent foreclosure and encourage fair and honest purchase of previously foreclosed properties. The bills aim to reduce the foreclosure rate in Wayne County which is foreclosing on more than 76,000 residential, commercial, and industrial properties throughout the county with 62,000 located in Detroit. "Helping homeowners overcome financial hardship and meet their legal responsibilities will help keep families in their homes in a responsible way, lessen the number of vacant buildings and improve public safety while generating tax dollars to provide vital services to city and county residents," Snyder said. "Developing a more transparent foreclosure system also ensures previously foreclosed property does not return to the hands of delinquent taxpayers." House Bills 4882 and 5421, sponsored by former state Reps. Phil Cavanaugh and John Walsh, respectively, allow homeowners facing financial hardship to use a payment plan to meet tax responsibilities and avoid foreclosure. The payment plan will be created by the foreclosing governmental unit and agreed upon by the landowner. The bills also allow county treasurers to waive additional monthly interest accrued in delinquent tax cases once the payment plan is completed, allowing individuals to maintain ownership of their property. "Thanks to this collaborative effort between Governor Snyder, the legislature, Mayor Duggan, and our office; we will be able to assist distressed taxpayers, stabilize communities, and address blight in a manner never before possible. This is a great day for Detroit, Wayne County, and Michigan," said Wayne County Treasurer Raymond J. Wojtowicz. Senate Bill 295, sponsored by former state Sen. Tupac Hunter, requires people interested in bidding on foreclosed property to register with the government unit holding the property at least 14 days before a property sale. The requirement prevents bidders from purchasing homes and buildings if they are found to have outstanding tax payments, unpaid blight fines or a history of financial negligence. A foreclosing governmental unit cannot accept purchasing bids from a person who did not register or does not meet sale requirements. "With the Governor enacting this important legislation today, more than 20,000 Detroit homeowners now have the ability to restructure their property tax debts to avoid foreclosure and stay in their homes. We will be working closely with the Wayne County Treasurer Raymond Wojtowicz and the Detroit Land Bank to make sure Detroiters facing possible foreclosure are aware of this important opportunity," said Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. HB 5398, sponsored by state Rep. Jon Bumstead, allows a foreclosing governmental unit for a county (other than the State) to acquire property owned by the State, the Federal government, a land bank fast track authority, or another governmental entity, to facilitate the sale of tax-reverted property. The bills are now Public Acts 499-502 of 2014, respectively. The governor also signed 12 other bills: HB 4480, sponsored by state Rep. Tom Leonard, and SBs 269-272, sponsored by state Sens. Mike Kowall, Judy Emmons and Virgil Smith, are part of a package of bills updating the requirements for use of the 21st Century Jobs fund allowing businesses and communities to receive support needed to grow and thrive in Michigan. The bills ensure continued funding for the Pure Michigan advertising campaign, business development, and job training and revitalization programs. The other two bills in this package, HBs 4481 and 4482, sponsored by state Reps. Harvey Santana and Frank Foster were signed by the governor earlier this month. The bills are now PAs 503-507. HB 5418, sponsored by former state Rep. and current Sen. David Knezek, allows private employers to give preference to veterans when hiring, offering promotions and retaining talent. It is now PA 508. HB 5862, sponsored by state Rep. Amanda Price, amends the act that provides local governments the ability to use fire insurance proceeds to demolish fire damaged property to demolish fire damaged property. The bill increases the fire insurance withholdings cap to $12,000 and allows withholdings to be used for cleanup purposes. It is now PA 509. SB 427, sponsored by former state Sen. Howard Walker, excludes wages from taxes for employers hiring jobs to J-1 or H-B2 visa holders. The update is a technical fix to the Michigan Employer Security Act. It is now PA 510. SBs 786 and 787, sponsored by former state Sen. Bruce Caswell, modernizes the tax code for hydroponic and aquaculture production facilities by eliminating the general property tax and instead charging these facilities 25 percent of what the general tax would have been. The bill aligns Michigan policy with practices of neighboring states and Ontario and will help grow these parts of the agriculture sector. They are now PA 511 and 512. SBs 852 and 962, sponsored by state Sens. Bert Johnson and David Robertson, respectively, correct tax abatement filing errors made by the cities of Hamtramck and Flint. The legislation builds on previous updates, ensuring facility owners who have made land and building improvements are taxed correctly. The bills are now PAs 513 and 514. For additional information on this and other legislation, visit legislature.michigan.gov. Published: Fri, Jan 16, 2015

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